Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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'I can tell you I didn't believe in myself for a while, and it took somebody just to say, 'Devan, I believe in you, you're going to go places.''

Devan Petersen's youth was anything but typical. When she shows childhood pictures, she says behind the smiles things were so tough authorities stepped in when she was 14.

'They came and removed me and put me in foster care. And then from there I moved six times, four foster homes, and two facilities.'

But foster care ends at age 18, when children become adults.

'It was one of the scariest moments in my life. I have never been so scared.'

Now Devan is training as a counselor at Catholic Charities' Independent Living Skills program, which helps foster children transition to adulthood.

'We're training them to live on their own, giving them the basic life skills to function in life,' said program director Melisa Jack.

'I don't want a child to be scared the way I was,' Devan said.

Part of the program is the Hope Chest, the rooms filled with clothing, shoes, food, linens, cooking utensils.

'All the household things that they need like to start up their first apartment,' explained Melisa Jack.

The Hope Chest is vital as the independent living skills program helps young people start new and independent lives as adults. And that's where they need donations, everything from canned foods like meats for the food pantry, to things to help them get housekeeping.

'Pots and pans, sheets, towels, essentials for the kitchen, toasters, dishes,' said Jack.

'It's beyond more than teaching or giving them, you know, a towel or a pot or a pan,' Devan said, speaking from experience. 'It's instilling trust in themselves, and trust in others.'

You can reach the Catholic Charities Independent Living Skills program by calling 340-5100, or visit their website at

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